The most popular type of camera is the typical point and shoot camera. It is excellent for quick, easy, and pleasing photos that people can share with friends and family. In fact this is the type of camera that I personally prefer and use.

With smartphones including better quality cameras, we are seeing more competition between the smartphone camera and the point and shoot camera. Therefore, many people question the decision to purchase a point and shoot camera.

I recently had the opportunity to test and review the Olympus Stylus TG-850 point and shoot camera, and may I say that users who question the functionality of point and shoot cameras should think again. The TG-850, with its tough and rugged body, was put to the test by weeks of photos of all different kinds.

Throughout my review of the TG-850, I will be covering the following topics: my usage, design, features, and overall thoughts. I would like to thank Olympus for providing me with the TG-850 for review.

Figure 1 – The design of the TG-850.

My Usage

Let's start with unboxing the TG-850. Shipped in a reasonable packaging, the TG-850 comes with a decent length USB to proprietary connector cable for charging and data transfer, a USB wall port adapter, setup CD, rechargeable battery, wrist wrap, quick start guide, water resistance guide, and warranty information.

Installed on the Olympus Setup CD is an online user registration for warranty setup, instruction manual, and Olympus’s Viewer 3 software. The Viewer 3 software is like your own mini Adobe Photoshop. Users can view pictures, change lighting, add effects and more. An excellent touch for those who need to make adjustments after the shot was taken.

Once you’ve charged your Sony-made 925mAh rechargeable battery and launched the TG-850 for the first time, you are greeted with a setup menu. Afterwards, the camera boots up within seconds and is ready to take quality photos.

Something that initially annoyed me while using the TG-850 was the lack of an SD card. The camera has only 37MB of internal storage, most of which is used up by the operating system. Luckily I had a 1GB SD card that I was able to use. An SD card, even if it is a 1GB card, is something I would like to see included for a camera in this price range. The camera also supports SDHC and SDXC cards.

After setting up the camera to certain features I like to use, such as a fine resolution, 16:9 display on the LCD, and use of the LED, I began taking photos of all different things. I took photos of my dogs, people, flowers, the sky, sunsets, etc. When taking photos I like to keep the setting wheel on automatic and allow the camera to do the work. It worked just fine for me, but there are other options for things like Art, Super Macro, Filters, Low Light, etc.; more on this later.

With my 1GB SD card installed the camera takes 155 fine resolution shots and 6 minutes and 41 seconds of Full HD video. In relation to the video abilities, the TG-850 has a 1080p capture that also records sound. You can also play back videos on the LCD display and the camera includes a built in speaker.

When moving through the different options in the menu, I noticed that some options were locked out. This is due to the current mode you are using. Auto mode takes care of certain things therefore does not give you the option to change it.

To finish this section here is my general experience. While some people may confuse the on/off button with the camera’s shoot button and there might be a slight learning curve for those not familiar with new technology, the camera itself is a joy to use. The photos can be increased up to an impressive, and carrying around the camera is very easy. Something I have really come to like is the ruggedness of the camera; more of that in the next section. In the end it’s a great point and shoot camera that I enjoyed using for all photos.

Figure 2 – The LCD has a 180 degree movement.

The Design

As I said previously, I am a fan of point and shoot cameras. These cameras are typically light in weight, compact, take perfect photos, and are easy to use, which easily describes the TG-850.

To begin, the camera's ruggedness is one of my favorite attributes. Previously, I used a Canon PowerShot SX120 IS which during its lifetime worked just fine. However, after many years of use, taking it to the beach, and dropping it on the ground, the camera just could not withstand any more. The TG-850 doesn’t have this problem whatsoever. Being one of the strongest cameras I have ever used, the TG-850 is waterproof (33ft of water), crushproof (220 pounds of force), shockproof (7ft drop), freezeproof (down to 14F degrees), and dustproof. They only comply with the toughness with the LCD lid closed.

No longer need I worry if the camera will perform in the current environment. Olympus has made photography much easier by taking the stress of worrying about the camera out of the picture. This is something that is now hard to live without after using the TG-850. Plus the camera has a premium look and feel to it as well.

Moving on we have the physical body of the TG-850. As the body is made out of both metal and a rugged plastic, the camera looks and feels high quality. While holding the camera with both hands, I found that it became difficult to set functions as my fingers sometimes got in the way of the left mounted lens or my palm would block some of the LCD display. However, as all the functions can be controlled with your right hand, one handed use is not impossible as the camera only weighs 7.7oz. Left-handed users may feel uncomfortable holding the camera at first.

On the bottom of the camera is a tri-pod mount, to the left we have a microphone for audio, then on the right is the waterproof hatch for the SD card, battery removal, and USB micro/ proprietary connector. On the top you’ll find the left and right speakers, on/off button, shoot button, and zoom. On the front face is the camera lens, LED, and flash. Finally, on the back is the 3 inch (16:9) display, video record button, mode change wheel, slideshow button, four way menu movement pad, and menu button.

Lastly, is the rear mounted 3 inch display. Another favorite of mine is the 180 degree movable LCD screen. This is great for many different situations, such as, taking a 'selfie', or if you are tall you can move the camera down, but angle the display up so you can take level photos.

Figure 3 – Actual (unchanged) photos from my TG-850.


As I said earlier, I used to have an old Canon point and shoot. This camera took two double AA batteries that it began to use up in only a day or two. The TG-850 uses a rechargeable Sony-made battery that lasts quite a long time depending on your usage. This also saves you money because you do not need to buy additional batteries.

Something to note is that the TG-850 has the widest lens of any rugged camera on the market. With its 5x optical zoom, 2x super resolution zoom, 4x digital zoom and 10x SR zoom, it’s safe to say you can zoom over a wide range, personally I took a shot of my backyard and it covered the entire 165ft span. The TG-850 has a focal length of 3.74 – 18.7mm and an aperture range of F3.5 – 5.7. Another favorite is the fact that the lens has an image stabilization system to stop shaky hands from ruining a photo.

With its TruePic VII processor and 16 megapixel sensor, the TG-850 takes both colorful and high definition photos just like a DSLR would. The camera is also smart in using a red eye reduction, fill-in, and auto flash when it is needed.

When looking at the different camera modes, the TG-850 offers a mode for every shot. There is first the normal auto shot, then super macro, scene mode (night shots, sports, indoors, sunset, etc.), art filters, panorama, hand-held starlight, e-Portrait, and a user optimized program option (in this mode all settings are unlocked).

Finally, here are all the specifications of the TG-850:


Image Sensor: 16 Megapixel – BSI CMOS 1/2.3
Image Processor: TruePic VII
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 125, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, AUTO, HIGH
Shutter Speed: 1/2 - 1/2000 (Night Scene: Longest 4 sec)
Continuous Shooting: 7fps/6 images (16M); 2.5fps/200 images (16M); 20fps/60 images (3M); 60fps/60 images (3M)
Focus Mode: Face Detection AF, Spot AF, AF Tracking
AF Illuminator: Built-in AF Illuminator
Flash Modes: Auto, Red Eye Reduction, Fill-in, Off, LED
Image File Format: Still Image: JPEG; Video: MOV/H.264
Playback Edit Effects: Still Image: Resize, Crop, Red Eye Fix, Shadow Adjustment
Video Mode: 1080 60p, 1080p, 720p, VGA, HS120fps, HS240fps
Audio Recording: Linear PCM

EXTREMELY HIGH FUN QUOTIENTInterval Shooting: 1-99 frames, 0-60 min start timer, 10sec-60min interval time
Self-Timer: 2 sec, 12 sec, Custom Self-Timer (1-30 sec start timer, 1-10 pictures, 1-3 sec interval)
Shooting Modes (Mode Dial):Intelligent Auto (iAUTO), Program Auto (P), Super Macro, Scene Modes (18), Art Filters (11), Panorama, Hand-Held Starlight, e-Portrait
Scene Modes: 1. Portrait, 2. Landscape, 3. Interval Shooting, 4. Night Scene, 5. Night + Portrait, 6. Sport, 7. Indoor, 8. Self Portrait, 9. Sunset, 10. Fireworks, 11. Cuisine, 12. Documents, 13. Beach & Snow, 14. Under Water Snapshot, 15. Under Water Wide1, 16. Under Water Wide2, 17. Under Water Macro, 18. Backlight HDR
Art Filters: 1. Pop Art, 2. Soft Focus, 3. Pale & Light Color, 4. Grainy Film, 5. Pin Hole, 6. Diorama, 7. Dramatic Tone, 8. Fish Eye, 9. Sparkle, 10. Reflection, 11. Fragmented
Picture Modes: Vivid, Natural, Muted
Panorama: Standard and Full 360° Views.

Figure 4 – Another (unchanged) photo from the TG-850.

My Final Thoughts

After my few weeks with the TG-850, I have really come to enjoy the functionality and usability of the camera. Its tough aspect is something I would not want to live without, and the photos it takes are just outstanding. I feel that at $229, it’s a little pricey, but worth it in the end as this camera should last you for many years.

Buy it Now:

© 2014